Aliens have always been a hot topic of discussion. Whether you’re balls deep in a conversation about “unsolved abduction” with a stranger in a bar or trying to convince your friends that you’re off the mary jane and really did see that alien spaceship in the sky; those little big-eyed space travelers always seem to make UFO alienstheir way into our everyday lives. With the Navy finally confirming UFO videos as real just earlier this week, (THANK YOU, BLINK-182) and the slightly insane but totally understandable planned raid of Area 51 (although it will take more than 100 people showing up), I’d say we are light-years closer (pun totally intended) to finally getting the answer to what the fuck aliens want from us. But luckily while we wait, tons of writers and directors have decided to put their own answers to that exact question on the big screen for all to see. From The Thing (1982) to the more recent, A Quiet Place (2018), aliens have become a staple in horror. But what exactly influenced these filmmakers to create some of the most iconic films in history? Is there some sort of truth derived from the news and sightings in real life that paved the way for sci-fi/horror itself? Does your skin-suit really belong to you or was an alien just kind enough to let you use it?

Totally kidding… kinda.

movies about aliens
The idea of aliens is absolutely nothing new, but in the 1950s, during the start of the Cold War (and a huge wave of UFO paranoia) the extra-terrestrial was a relatively new and often-visited idea in filmmaking. Four short years following the infamous 1947 Roswell UFO incident in New Mexico, staple films like The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and the original The Thing from Another World (1951) were being released and quickly became the hot topic stateside. As aliens made their big-screen debut, they were already being made out to be horrible creatures that are coming to see the destruction of mankind. The 1960s moved us towards the more comedic offerings of what the outer atmosphere was hiding. Campy, low budget pieces seemed to snuff out the terror that the UFO hysteria the 50s had laid upon the heart of the United States and aside from lightly touching on the subject in the cinematic masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Stanley Kubrick, writers and directors seemed to mostly steer clear of aliens and anything that had to do with them.

alien movie
Then, came the 70s and the release of Alien, THE alien movie of our lifetimes. The 1979 release of Alien and its subsequent sequels paved the way for the future of extra-terrestrial movies. In director Ridley Scott’s film adaptation of a story by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett, we follow a seven-person crew into the depths of space when they land on a foreign moon and are exposed to the terrors of the unknown (which come in the form of the acid bleeding, chest-bursting, mouth within a mouth having, all-around bad-ass alien species: the Xenomorphs). Being a major influence in sci-fi and horror, this film is considered one of the most aesthetically beautiful and well-written movies of its time and widely argued as one of the best alien-themed movies in history. It was then that the public started really paying attention to what was going on out there. Closely following the release of Alien, the mysterious event of Rendlesham Forest was occurring in England. Servicemen on patrol in Woodbridge had reported seeing lights descending from the sky, and stumbled upon a “craft of unknown origin”. Upon further investigation by police, three indentions had been left in the spot that the serviceman had said the craft had landed, and the radiation levels in the ground where it had touched were significant. This information was finally released to the public in 1983 under the Freedom of Information Act.

The Fourth Kind Movie Aliens
In the 80s horror such as Killer Klowns from Outer Space (1988) to Critters (1986), aliens and what we would consider them to be, was being reimagined seemingly every year. In the ’90s, the iconic Independence Day (1996) and the beautiful The Fire in the Sky (1993) were released, and still resonate today much like the Alien franchise. Aliens were becoming a more popular subject and it wasn’t showing any signs of stopping. But as time progressed, and more information was being confirmed by the government itself and alien encounter survivors were coming forward to tell their stories, alien films took a turn for a more realistic, and sinister feel. A new wave of alien techno-horror, Cloverfield (2008), The Fourth Kind (2009) made their debut, focusing more on the terrors of an alien takeover here on earth, and the newly popularized “found footage” film structure to get a more real-life feel of abduction and contact. More recently, films like Annihilation (2018) and A Quiet Place (2018) have taken a more subtle look at aliens, using slow-burn story-telling techniques and an “I’m not saying it’s an alien but that’s definitely what it is” type story. All in all, we’ve definitely had enough inspiration when it comes to the extra-terrestrials on film to know what’s really going on… basically, when the aliens touch down we are doomed to be beamed up like Scotty. So why not make a shit ton of alien-based horror movies to scare the hell out of us in the meantime?

I guess it’s better than being abducted.

Yours Ghouly,

About the Author (of Your Doom)

Haley Williamson Bio